FARIBAULT, Minn. (AP) — An attorney for a former nurse in southern Minnesota accused of going online and encouraging two people to kill themselves wants the Minnesota Court of Appeals to address a free speech question, but prosecutors disagree, according to documents filed in the case.

William Melchert-Dinkel, 48, of Faribault, faces two counts of aiding suicide for allegedly advising and encouraging an English man and a Canadian woman to take their own lives. He has pleaded not guilty.

Melchert-Dinkel’s attorney, Terry Watkins, had argued that the case should be dismissed on free speech grounds but Rice County District Court Judge Thomas Neuville disagreed last month, saying speech that aids in the suicide of another is not protected.

In documents filed Monday, Watkins asked Neuville to certify a free speech question that he wants the court of appeals to consider before the case goes to trial. Specifically, Watkins wants the appeals court to examine whether the First Amendment requires that speech must “create or initiate the intention or disposition to act on the part of the other” in order for his client to be criminally liable.

Watkins says the victims were predisposed to committing suicide and had plans to take their lives. He said his client didn’t sway them by making statements online.

Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster said in court documents that the question Watkins wants certified is hypothetical and isn’t attached to the facts. He also argued that it doesn’t meet legal standards that would merit certification for an appeals court review.

Watkins also argued that the case should be dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, because the suicides didn’t happen in Minnesota and his client’s act of sending messages online isn’t a crime in itself.

Beaumaster disagreed, saying the facts show Melchert-Dinkel’s conduct occurred in Rice County.

Neuville has taken the matters under advisement.

Prosecutors have said Melchert-Dinkel was obsessed with suicide and cruised the Internet for potential victims. When he found them, they said, he posed as a female nurse, feigned compassion and offered instructions on how they could kill themselves.

Melchert-Dinkel was charged in April in the 2005 hanging death of Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England, and the 2008 drowning of Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (3)
  1. Minnesota says:

    hey isn’t that Dr Kavorkian’s kid ? kind of looks like him, just wondering

  2. Fred Rather says:

    This monster represented himself as a depressed young lady, created suicide pacts with his victims, assured them they would go to heaven, and watched them die on webcam. Who is he kidding. Enjoy your salvation in Stillwater Prison. Bubba is waiting for you.

  3. Ignorance must be bliss says:

    I was wondering where you got that information. The only thing I see in this story is that he said he was a female nurse. I don’t read anything stating that he made pacts with these people or that he watched them on a web cam. It certainly does not state that he assured these people that they were going to heaven. I am not saying that I am taking the side of someone who does these kinds of things, but I do like to read the facts and not “read into” the story where I start making my own facts up. So if you know that he did these things please site where this info can be found. If not please keep your news story in your head and not giving faulty info on a page that people want to know what happened and not what was imagined.

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